AREA — Maledetti (maudits) (review)

AREA — Maledetti (maudits) album cover Album · 1976 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
What is up with Area? They follow a fairly accessible album with a less accessible, then go back to an accessible album, then follow it with a less accessible album? Arbeit Macht Frei was followed by the more experimental Caution: Radiation Area. Then comes Crac!, a much more accessible album, and now Maledetti, where they go all over the place. The core of Area is augmented with many guest musicians, including two Basque txalaparta players, Jose and Jesus Arze (Jesus was miscredited as Anton Arze, apparently Jose's full name was Jose Anton Arze, or also JosAnton Artze) of Arza Arnaiak (who also recorded for Cramps), a cello quartet, plus jazz musicians like Steve Lacy, and too many others. "Evaporazione" is a strange piece with some weird droning and Demetrio Stratos giving some spoken dialog, until at the end he yells, in English, "Ladies and gentlemen". "Diforismo Urbano" is more into familiar Area territory, just a great fusion piece with lots of electric piano, synths, and jazzy drumming. "Gerantocrazio" starts off with txalaparta from the Arze brothers (or Artze, as it is spelled in Basque). The txalaparta is basically several boards of varying lengths placed on a stand, and is beat vertically with a short percussion stuck, and usually played by two people. That weird, almost marimba-like sound you hear on this piece is that txalaparta (its use almost went extinct during the Franco years in Spain). Then eventually Demetrio Stratos voice kicks in. This one is a bit more on the prog territory, but thanks to the txalaparta, it has an almost avant garde feel. "Scum" is much more in jazz territory, with largely piano, but then suddenly it ends with strange electronic effects played off a Serge modular synthesizer. Then you get a cello quartet doing a massacre of Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto", apparently doing a bunch of "no nos" in the world of traditional classical music (of course I can tell many of the passages were removed or butchered, hence a massacre). "Giro, Giro, Tondo" is another fantastic number in more familiar Area territory. "Caos" is literally avant garde. I love how the sax player injects, briefly, Henry Mancini's theme to the Pink Panther! I love Maledetti, but it could be a bit much for some. Some of it isn't all too terribly different from their previous album Crac!, but there is plenty of that avant garde leaning that might scare more traditional fusion (and prog) fans away (not to mention their communist political views), but I am so blown away by this stuff I have little to complain. Even if you don't like everything here, but you like Area, there is still lots of great material to make it worth having.
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